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I have a Nikon Z6 – latest firmware (ver. 3.12, from October 2020). As far as I can remember since Eye-AF was first introduced in May 2019, I've been having a hard time have the eye-AF locked on the subject.

My camera's autofocus would basically go haywire trying to lock it in. I don't know what is wrong, or maybe I'm misusing it.

My expectation: eye-AF would lock onto an eye. If I wanted to, I would be able to press left or right on the panel and it would lock onto another eye.

What it is currently doing: it would fidget/jump around and tries to get a lock. I am half-clicking to maintain focus, but it would bounce around so bad that you can hear the mechanism "seek" the focus.

It does this regardless of which lens is attached, or the aperture settign. I have 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm F/1.8 lenses, and it does it with all of them. I am still able to capture great pictures; however this "fidget" thing is bothering me as obviously I need several shots to get what I need in focus.

It does this in the field and in the studio.

Any help, indicators, experience to resolve this would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE

Per comments:

  • subject is stationary (still). AF square rotates between eye to eye and to face (larger square)
  • Focus Mode: AF-C setting
  • WB: auto
  • AF-area mode: Auto-area AF
  • release mode: single frame
  • metering: matrix
  • active D-lighting: off
  • vibration reduction: on
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  • Focus points moving around automatically do not make noise because there is no (mechanical) mechanism involved. It's all happening inside the camera's data processor(s). Any noise you hear is probably the IBIS system working to overcome camera movement or the lens' AF motor moving the lens' focus elements as the distance to the same target changes or as a new target is a different distance than the old one was.
    – Michael C
    Nov 16, 2020 at 1:32
  • "Any help, indicators, experience to resolve this would be greatly appreciated." Any information about what your current settings are with regard to AF in general and Eye-AF in particular would greatly improve the changes that someone could help you.
    – Michael C
    Nov 16, 2020 at 1:34

2 Answers 2

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Eye AF was an added function for the Z6/7 and it is known to be less effective than others like Sony's eye AF.

However, there are a few things that can/will help autofocus... When the detail (eye) you are trying to focus on is larger w/in the composition it is easier for the system to acquire. When the detail has greater contrast it is easier for the system to acquire. And for on-sensor AF, with cameras showing exposure preview, having more DOF (stopping down) can make it easier for the system to acquire focus.

If you are taking pictures with short lenses, at wide apertures, and lower light/contrast levels, then you are making it as hard as possible for the AF system. This would be typical of indoor natural light scenarios, but it could occur outdoors as well.

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I'm having a similar problem with both eye and face AF, it was an overcast morning light. The camera is set to AF-C and AF-S as focus priority. The eye / face tracking would jump around a small amount, I took several shots and most would be out of focus. If I pressed the half-shutter focus multiple times, it would seem to settle down and focus well. I found the subject tracking box to be more reliable in the same conditions. Disappointing performance for the eye / face autofocus.

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